Datsun is a brand that is deeply rooted in its extensive history in South Africa; having grown up with Datsun vehicles, the brand is familiar to me as it is to most of you. Now having made a major comeback, Datsun has taken on innovative and modern designs to provide affordable and reliable vehicles to the motoring world. At AutoCity Datsun Nigel, this theme remains the core business.

The General Manager of AutoCity, Johan van Heerden, has a strong belief that individuals looking to buy a car tend to head to big cities when shopping for a vehicle, thinking that there will not only be a wider range available, but better prices or deals for them. The truth according to Johan is that the best products, deals and services are available right on your doorstep, and often more so in a smaller community where local dealerships can keep their finger on the pulse and meet the specific needs of the community. By bringing the city to the people, the AutoCity group offers their local community the same wide range of vehicles you would find in the big city. With the phenomenal deals on offer at Datsun Nigel, the value-for-money nature of the Datsun brand can stand its ground against any of its competitors. High sales numbers for the Datsun GO are proof that the need for reliable, affordable vehicles are being met through the likes of this dealership.

Fourteen years ago, Chris Strydom moved into the motoring industry from the financial sector; now the Dealer Principal for AutoCity Nissan Nigel and Datsun Nigel for the past two years, Chris is an “old school” leader that believes in prioritising the customer. Never satisfied until the customer is happy, Chris is also passionate about leading a well-equipped team and working hard together. This recipe has yielded positive results, which is evident in the record year this dealership had in 2017, where sales were doubled from a daunting position before. The dealership boasts a New and Used Car division, as well as a superb after-sales team dedicated to meeting client needs.

Sales Manager De Wet Pretorius is a leader that motivates his team to do their best and with 24 years of experience in the motoring industry, De Wet candidly notes that his passion lies with working with seeing people happy and excited to purchase a vehicle. He believes that due to his broad understanding of the product, he can better cater to the unique needs of customers. With the aim of seeing smiling customers leave the dealership having made the right purchase for them, De Wet’s theory of “many happy smiles” is what brings referrals back for more.

Noting that major safety improvements have been made to the Datsun GO in recent months, De Wet also believes that the brand and its products are growing from strength to strength (with Datsun South Africa reporting nearly 500 units sold last month alone). I am charmed by the statement De Wet makes regarding his very special AutoCity sales team, saying that the team is comprised of an ideal mix of smart and socially adept individuals who come from the local community (and are often requested by name) that have proven their ability to click with their clients.

As a member of this team, Sales Consultant (or Sales Representative) André Fouché has an 8-year history in motoring and is eager to state on record that he has found his “happy place” in this Dealership. Noting that seeing people happy, which is most often the case coming in and out of this dealership, is what motivates him. He laughs off any question of whether he would like to move to management, stating that sales is where he feels alive – the thrill and excitement of working with unique individuals daily is what he loves to do. André believes very strongly in honesty and transparency when it comes to his customers, and as a result, feels that it is vitally important for people to understand that Datsun is a new and innovative concept, not the same vehicles from the past. Although still capitalising on the reliability and affordability of the Datsun legacy, the Datsun’s of today are brand new from the ground up and should be given the chance to display this.

André presents me with a unique version of the Datsun GO: the Datsun GO Flash. With a smile he notes that this is simply the slightly “pimped up” version of the GO Lux. The Datsun GO is available in the Lux and Flash variants, as well as the Datsun GO Plus (which is a seven-seater) and the Panel Van, which André notes is currently the most affordable panel van on the market and is ideal for small businesses.

The price of the Datsun GO and its variants is currently the biggest selling point of this vehicle. Starting at R132,900, the Datsun GO has become popular for the fact that it is an affordable first-time car to buy, as well as proving to be reasonably priced in terms of maintenance (and light on the pocket when it comes to fuel consumption). With naturally good looks (thanks to a unique Datsun grille), the GO is compact, modern and robust, and with the GO Flash variant, your sense of self-expression is indulged with bespoke graphics added to the bonnet, roof and body of the vehicle. With customised mud flaps and a silver exhaust finisher, the GO Flash is available in cheeky grey or white finishes.

The interior of the GO Flash remains characterised by simplicity as in the GO. Clean lines, clear and ergonomic dashboard design and minimal clutter enhanced by silver accents throughout. Great effort has been invested in making the cockpit look and feel classy, with a soft-touch leather-grain finishing and comfortable seating that is based on a low-fatigue design to enhance driver comfort. The Datsun GO Flash is marketed as a compact hatchback, and thus the expectation of generous room in the cabin is unrealistic. Space is adequate, however three adults seated in the back would be pushing it. For the driver, space is sufficient (even for a big guy like André who notes that some competing hatchbacks are much tighter in his opinion). The boot space is more than sufficient for loading groceries, bags, boxes, or the like; making this a perfect vehicle for students, young families or even the young, vibey professional.

As in the Datsun GO, the GO Flash, “staying plugged into your digital life” is the slogan that best describes the features and technology on board. The manufacturer has been thoughtful in including needed technology to allow connectivity, whilst maintaining the incredibly affordable value of the vehicle. Having an on-board docking station for your smartphone, as well as Bluetooth, USB and Aux-enabled radio system, the Datsun GO Flash caters to your entertainment needs. The clever “follow me home” lighting system provides additional visibility for you as you exit the vehicle and walk away. Intelligent wipers, power steering and long-range headlamps are included as standard and underscore the importance of driver comfort and safety. A driver’s airbag is standard, and more can be added-on at extra cost; ABS braking is also included. On the plus side, the well-insulated cabin translates to very little road noise heard inside.

André tells me that the power to weight ratio on the GO Flash is responsible for the vehicle’s eager take-off, which proves to be quite true. Power output is noted at 50Kw, with torque at 104Nm which is quite sufficient to get this nippy little vehicle going. One of the best features of the GO range is the phenomenal fuel consumption, which – thanks to a perky 1200, 3-cylinder engine – has been noted to achieve 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres on a combined cycle. Running costs are kept low with affordable maintenance and service options, which explain why so many of these vehicles are being sold at such a rapid rate. Being extremely popular at the Datsun Nigel Dealership, university students and first-time buyers are the regular new owners at present.

Back at the dealership, I am delighted to hear that there are many specials planned for the coming months as AutoCity celebrates 18 years in business. The team believes that due to their incredible customers, the dealership is still standing strong. Additional, the dealership’s involvement in the community will continue to build the brand as well as serve the people locally.

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Journalist: Desh Bechan

Reporter: Inge Stols

Editor: Belinda Anderson